I know that it's hard to believe, but we've reached the last blog update for January, and with it, the last of the questions about In The Cards! Don't fret, though ... I have plenty of other things planned for the weeks to follow. Let's wrap up January in style, shall we? Before I do, though, I'd like to give one last thank-you to Twitter user and fellow author @simmeringmind for generating this list of questions ... I hope you've all enjoyed reading these posts as much as I've enjoyed writing them!
What advice have you been given that made your WIP better? I admit, I don't remember who I heard it from, first, but when I was first beginning this draft in November of 2014, I was told by several people to not use flashbacks until the readers had a chance to know and care about the characters involved in the present, as they'll be seen for most of the story. I had originally planned to intersperse the novel with scenes of Ral growing up with his uncle, Duncan O'Dailigh ... but it turned out that not a single one was necessary.
What advice have you ignored, because you know best? This is the third full overhaul of this particular story. When I was in the midst of the second, a family member said, "Shouldn't you move on from this set of characters and write something new?" ... I think that says it all.
Who has encouraged you during the writing process? SO many wonderful people - family, friends, fellow authors. My patient fiancee, Laurel, deserves the most credit for understanding when I'd come home and say "SHH! Wait, I need to write this down." (To be fair, she also got the free entertainment of watching me react to my own writing.)
Why do you love your WIP's genre? I love In The Cards because, really, it doesn't have a genre. I bill it on Twitter as supernatural fiction, but really, it has something for everyone. It's a love story, a murder mystery, a thriller, a horror novel... I can't pigeonhole it any easier than I could put a genre on life, as a whole.
Share a favorite image that reminds you of your novel: I have several, actually. I've put them all into what some fellow writers call a "Novel Aesthetic", a collage of images which fit the themes and atmosphere of a novel.
Describe a character relationship that you love in the story: I don't want to choose just one, but if I had to, it would probably be the friendship between one of my protagonists, Ral O'Dailigh, and his best friend and business partner, June Slovich. Theirs is the kind of friendship that's stood the test of time. They're above holding grudges, or walking on eggshells: they tell things to one another like they are, and even when they're angry at each other, it doesn't last long.
Why are you passionate about sharing this story? It's the first story I ever wrote that was both wholly mine, and worthy of sharing. (The very first story has a lot of remodeling to do, but it gets a bit of a cameo in In The Cards, just the same). Some of these characters have followed me through my life for over 15 years, and they're very dear to me. Letting them out into the world at last feels like watching them leave home.
Why do its themes come from your heart? This answer ties in a little bit with the answer to the next question. With both of my novels so far, the themes have surprised me by unintentionally correlating with things that have been on my mind. Where From the Desk of Buster Heywood is about finding your own voice and standing up for yourself, In the Cards teaches its heroes that sometimes that little intuitive voice inside knows more than you give it credit for, and that help can always be found if you have the strength to ask.
What are some things that writing this story has taught you? I had used a plot outline for Buster, but In the Cards was the novel that took using outlining as a tool to the next level. With three protagonists to juggle, I wanted to make sure that they each got equal time and attention. I got four colors of Post-It notes and assigned one to each protagonist, with the 4th reserved for minor characters or group scenes. Then I put a scene on each note and stuck them in a place where I could see it while I worked. This gave me a visual gauge of who had the most attention, and let me rearrange scenes so that I didn't focus on one character for too long. It also doubled as a progress meter: as I finished each scene, I'd remove the sticky note. It worked like a charm, and I'm refining the tactic for next year's tale.
That's the end of the WIP Challenge! I'm looking at using the A-Z Blog Challenge next to shake things up, and I have a guest blog in the wings for a colleague of mine ... so please stay tuned! Also, if you haven't already, I encourage you to subscribe to my mailing list, where I share things that don't show up here or on social media! Have a great week, and I'll see you all here again next Thursday!
Hello, everyone! For the penultimate round of questions about In the Cards, the focus lies mainly on the senses ... so fire up your imagination and get ready for some atmosphere!
Is there an animal you love in your book? The abnormally large weasel with glowing eyes that Troy finds in the woods (and no, I'm not telling you any more than that).
Some sights to see: Hand-painted murals, the pristine halls of Aviario Regional Hospital, a carefully restored Victorian mansion, a picture-perfect small New England town park, visions from the past laid over the future like old film, a comfortable old neighborhood diner, and of course, the otherworldly glow of magic.
Some sounds to be heard: "Walk Like an Egyptian" by the Bangles. Jazz music. Thready, tired coughing. The scrape of claws against wood. Whistling tea kettles. A child's rhyming song amid a thunderstorm.
Some scents smelled: Burnt coffee. Incense and herbs. Black tea and licorice. Old car vinyl. Ozone and damp leaves. Memory and neglect. Biscuit dough, laundry detergent, and Aqua Net. Also, this gem from Beatrice: "Don't take this the wrong way, April, but: you smell like my high school science classroom."
Some tastes or flavors shown: Coffee ... lots of coffee. Cherry Coke. The sour, dry taste of fear. Homemade blueberry pie. A leftover carton of lo mein. Plenty of comfort food ... and at least five cans of cheap iced tea.
Some touches or textures: Worn, well-used velvet. The crisp starch of a lab coat. An ancient silk comforter. The knot of fabric at the back of a blindfold. A "hug magnet" sweater. Wet, squelching mud. The near-electric jolt of a circle of power.
You'd love for your book to be made into a movie/TV show/radio drama/etc because...: I've always seen the stories of Aviario play out in my head in a very cinematic fashion. Dream casts aside, I'd love to see what production designers do with locations like The Balefires, Madie's Diner, Louise's sanctuary, or the lobby of St. Dymphna's. (Brief tangent: if you want to see some truly rich sets, watch any movie that Bo Welch has been a production designer on. I bet you'll recognize some favorites on that list.)
What is the most epic thing about your WIP? I fully introduce The Organization: a group of people whose actions, both direct and indirect, weave through every single book in the series. I guarantee that anyone who rereads "From the Desk of Buster Heywood" once this book comes out will see a few scenes in a new light. I don't dare say too much about them here, yet, but I promise you, Janus and his employees are beyond compare.
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